GOVERNMENT CODE SUBTITLE A. OPEN GOVERNMENT CHAPTER 554. PROTECTION FOR REPORTING VIOLATIONS OF LAW. (A)AAa state or federal statute;

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1 GOVERNMENT CODE TITLE 5. OPEN GOVERNMENT; ETHICS SUBTITLE A. OPEN GOVERNMENT CHAPTER 554. PROTECTION FOR REPORTING VIOLATIONS OF LAW Sec.A AADEFINITIONS. In this chapter: (1)AA"Law" means: (A)AAa state federal statute; (B)AAan dinance of a local governmental entity; (C)AAa rule adopted under a statute dinance. (2)AA"Local governmental entity" means a political subdivision of the state, including a: (A)AAcounty; (B)AAmunicipality; (C)AApublic school district; (D)AAspecial-purpose district authity. (3)AA"Personnel action" means an action that affects a public employee s compensation, promotion, demotion, transfer, wk assignment, perfmance evaluation. (4)AA"Public employee" means an employee appointed officer other than an independent contract who is paid to perfm services f a state local governmental entity. (5)AA"State governmental entity" means: (A)AAa board, commission, department, office, other agency in the executive branch of state government, created under the constitution a statute of the state, including an institution of higher education, as defined by Section , Education Code; (B)AAthe legislature a legislative agency; (C)AAthe Texas Supreme Court, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, a court of appeals, a state judicial agency, the State Bar of Texas. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 721, Sec. 1, eff. June 15, 1

2 Sec.A AARETALIATION PROHIBITED FOR REPORTING VIOLATION OF LAW. (a) A state local governmental entity may not suspend terminate the employment of, take other adverse personnel action against, a public employee who in good faith repts a violation of law by the employing governmental entity another public employee to an appropriate law enfcement authity. (b)aain this section, a rept is made to an appropriate law enfcement authity if the authity is a part of a state local governmental entity of the federal government that the employee in good faith believes is authized to: (1)AAregulate under enfce the law alleged to be violated in the rept; (2)AAinvestigate prosecute a violation of criminal law. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 721, Sec. 2, eff. June 15, Sec.A AARELIEF AVAILABLE TO PUBLIC EMPLOYEE. (a) A public employee whose employment is suspended terminated who is subjected to an adverse personnel action in violation of Section is entitled to sue f: (1)AAinjunctive relief; (2)AAactual damages; (3)AAcourt costs; and (4)AAreasonable attney fees. (b)aain addition to relief under Subsection (a), a public employee whose employment is suspended terminated in violation of this chapter is entitled to: (1)AAreinstatement to the employee s fmer position an equivalent position; (2)AAcompensation f wages lost during the period of suspension termination; and (3)AAreinstatement of fringe benefits and seniity rights lost because of the suspension termination. (c)aain a suit under this chapter against an employing state 2

3 local governmental entity, a public employee may not recover compensaty damages f future pecuniary losses, emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and other nonpecuniary losses in an amount that exceeds: (1)AA$50,000, if the employing state local governmental entity has fewer than 101 employees in each of 20 me calendar weeks in the calendar year in which the suit is filed in the preceding year; (2)AA$100,000, if the employing state local governmental entity has me than 100 and fewer than 201 employees in each of 20 me calendar weeks in the calendar year in which the suit is filed in the preceding year; (3)AA$200,000, if the employing state local governmental entity has me than 200 and fewer than 501 employees in each of 20 me calendar weeks in the calendar year in which the suit is filed in the preceding year; and (4)AA$250,000, if the employing state local governmental entity has me than 500 employees in each of 20 me calendar weeks in the calendar year in which the suit is filed in the preceding year. (d)aaif me than one subdivision of Subsection (c) applies to an employing state local governmental entity, the amount of monetary damages that may be recovered from the entity in a suit brought under this chapter is governed by the applicable provision that provides the highest damage award. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 721, Sec. 3, eff. June 15, Sec.A AAWAIVER OF IMMUNITY. A public employee who alleges a violation of this chapter may sue the employing state local governmental entity f the relief provided by this chapter. Sovereign immunity is waived and abolished to the extent of liability f the relief allowed under this chapter f a violation of this chapter. Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 721, Sec. 4, eff. June 15, 3

4 Sec.A AABURDEN OF PROOF; PRESUMPTION; AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSE. (a) A public employee who sues under this chapter has the burden of proof, except that if the suspension termination of, adverse personnel action against, a public employee occurs not later than the 90th day after the date on which the employee repts a violation of law, the suspension, termination, adverse personnel action is presumed, subject to rebuttal, to be because the employee made the rept. (b)aait is an affirmative defense to a suit under this chapter that the employing state local governmental entity would have taken the action against the employee that fms the basis of the suit based solely on infmation, observation, evidence that is not related to the fact that the employee made a rept protected under this chapter of a violation of law. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 721, Sec. 5, eff. June 15, Sec.A AALIMITATION PERIOD. Except as provided by Section , a public employee who seeks relief under this chapter must sue not later than the 90th day after the date on which the alleged violation of this chapter: (1)AAoccurred; (2)AAwas discovered by the employee through reasonable diligence. Sec.A AAUSE OF GRIEVANCE OR APPEAL PROCEDURES. (a) A public employee must initiate action under the grievance appeal procedures of the employing state local governmental entity relating to suspension termination of employment adverse personnel action befe suing under this chapter. (b)aathe employee must invoke the applicable grievance appeal procedures not later than the 90th day after the date on which the alleged violation of this chapter: (1)AAoccurred; (2)AAwas discovered by the employee through reasonable 4

5 diligence. (c)aatime used by the employee in acting under the grievance appeal procedures is excluded, except as provided by Subsection (d), from the period established by Section (d)aaif a final decision is not rendered befe the 61st day after the date procedures are initiated under Subsection (a), the employee may elect to: (1)AAexhaust the applicable procedures under Subsection (a), in which event the employee must sue not later than the 30th day after the date those procedures are exhausted to obtain relief under this chapter; (2)AAterminate procedures under Subsection (a), in which event the employee must sue within the time remaining under Section to obtain relief under this chapter. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 721, Sec. 6, eff. June 15, Sec.A AAWHERE SUIT BROUGHT. (a) A public employee of a state governmental entity may sue under this chapter in a district court of the county in which the cause of action arises in a district court of Travis County. (b)aaa public employee of a local governmental entity may sue under this chapter in a district court of the county in which the cause of action arises in a district court of any county in the same geographic area that has established with the county in which the cause of action arises a council of governments other regional commission under Chapter 391, Local Government Code. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 721, Sec. 7, eff. June 15, Sec.A AACIVIL PENALTY. (a) A supervis who in violation of this chapter suspends terminates the employment of a public employee takes an adverse personnel action against the employee is liable f a civil penalty not to exceed $15,000. (b)aathe attney general appropriate prosecuting 5

6 attney may sue to collect a civil penalty under this section. (c)aaa civil penalty collected under this section shall be deposited in the state treasury. (d)aaa civil penalty assessed under this section shall be paid by the supervis and may not be paid by the employing governmental entity. (e)aathe personal liability of a supervis other individual under this chapter is limited to the civil penalty that may be assessed under this section. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 721, Sec. 8, eff. June 15, Sec.A AANOTICE TO EMPLOYEES. (a) A state local governmental entity shall infm its employees of their rights under this chapter by posting a sign in a prominent location in the wkplace. (b)aathe attney general shall prescribe the design and content of the sign required by this section. Amended by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 721, Sec. 9, eff. June 15, Sec.A AAAUDIT OF STATE GOVERNMENTAL ENTITY AFTER SUIT. (a) At the conclusion of a suit that is brought under this chapter against a state governmental entity subject to audit under Section and in which the entity is required to pay $10,000 me under the terms of a settlement agreement final judgment, the attney general shall provide to the state audit s office a brief memandum describing the facts and disposition of the suit. (b)aanot later than the 90th day after the date on which the state audit s office receives the memandum required by Subsection (a), the audit may audit investigate the state governmental entity to determine any changes necessary to crect the problems that gave rise to the whistleblower suit and shall recommend such changes to the Legislative Audit Committee, the Legislative Budget Board, and the governing board chief 6

7 executive officer of the entity involved. In conducting the audit investigation, the audit shall have access to all recds pertaining to the suit. Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 721, Sec. 10, eff. June 15, 7

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